Have you thought about the direction of our church lately? Have you thought about where our church has been headed over the past 10-20 years? Have you thought about where it will be in 2025 or 2035? And finally, are you good with the status quo? Do you think if we stand pat as a church, keep doing what we've been doing the past 20 years or so, we will survive, grow, be able to serve all and do the work of the Lord? Before I say anything else, I have to state that what we're experiencing as a church isn't uncommon. Very few young families,Sunday school almost non-existent (except for Asbury), declining attendance and an aging congregation. In fact, these same issues are being dealt with by many, if not most of the traditional churches in the area and throughout the country.
I believe that if we don't evolve and become more open to the things that will attract the younger people and families with young children, we will not survive. I say that not because I am an expert in this field, far from it, but because I see all the churches in our area that have closed over the years, with all denominations affected.
Does evolving mean we forget about the long time members and those who have been serving the church for 20, 30 even 50 or more years and focus only on the new people? Absolutely not!! I believe that would be a fatal mistake. If it wasn't for them, the church wouldn't be here right now. Those are the people that have so much to offer and we need them to provide guidance, strength and their years of experience to help us move forward and to bring along the new people. That is part of being a true disciple of Christ.
Are we as a congregation willing to stand pat? Are we satisfied with the direction our church has been heading the past 10-20 years? If we are, I believe we won't make it another 20 years max at that pace, or we'll be a shell of what we used to be. If you have any suggestions, offer them. If you have any questions, ask them, but don't stand by and criticize just because you don't like something. Get involved. Be a part of what's happening in our church. Don't stand on the outside, being divisive, get in the mix and be a cohesive member. In the end, we all have to do this together.
We not only owe it to ourselves, but to the many who came before us here at GUMC and those who are coming up behind us, especially our children and grandchildren. And by children, I mean not only our biological children, but the children of the church, who are the responsibility of us all!! Think about all the great friendships you've developed in our church. Life long, forever friendships. What an amazing blessing we have been to each other. If you stop and think, I'll bet many of your closest friends are from our church. People you've been friends with 10, 20, 30, even 50 or more years. I know that is definitely true for Wendy and I.
Do you see that opportunity being available to our children and grandchildren? When I look around our church, I don't! And you know why? How many 20 to 30 year old people do you see sitting in our pews that they could become friends with? Most Sundays, very few and on some Sundays, none. That alone should make us all stand up and do whatever is necessary to make this church grow and become vibrant for generations to come, with lots of young families and children, so that our children and grandchildren can have that same opportunity to develop life long friendships.
What are we going to pass on to the next generation? Will it be a strong, vibrant, growing and accepting of all church, with the face of Jesus stamped everywhere, or will it be a church hanging on, just trying to get by and hoping we can make it? It's everyone's choice, not just a select few. Let's work together. We might not always see eye to eye and might not agree on everything, or hardly anything, but I believe we can all agree on a few things. First, through God's grace, we are saved by faith through Christ our savior. And finally, we love this church, we love each other and we want to make GUMC the best that it can be in every way possible. Our time is now, young and old!! Are you ready? The church needs you now more than ever.
Dave is the Discipleship Czar at Girard 1st. His unofficial title was given because of his love for Christ, and his consistent encouragement for people in their spiritual walk.